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What legal documents do I need to provide before joining FAANGMULA on an existing side hustle?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Othera month ago

Today during office hours Rahul talked about this a tiny bit (sans the legal), but I'm curious as I've had many friends who worked at Google previously that discouraged me from applying to Google (like 10 years ago) if I still wanted to do a startup (this was long before Area 120 was a practiced thing). Recently, a friend (VC whose girlfriend works at Google) said many people still build venture/angel funds on the side while still working full time for Google. But of course, don't create your startup company using company property (a la Silicon Valley HBO lessons).

Questions

(1) What companies are flex about having things on the side - a side hustle (but you can't advertise it), examples being two different companies on both ends of the spectrum: Google, Apple etc.)? I've heard some FAANGMULA companies are more stringent than others (Apple being very much against this and super private and only sorta kind supporting open source, vs. others which are all for it and have accelerator/internal incubator programs at the company (Area 120), or even sponsoring ex-employees (a cohort of my class at Verizon Ventures one year was all MIT alumni, ex-Googlers that were sponsored by Google, paid their incorporation fees, I was one of the two weird VR founder people).

(2) I've also heard that from friends if you work at Google, you are not allowed to get paid for speaking gigs on your technical expertise or whatever your functional role is at that company (this differs from from Meta I've heard from other friends). Is this true?

(3) If you go into a FAANGMULA company, what info (legally) what information do you need to provide the the employer? What docs from the state/federal/govt or whatever) that says you have a a DBA, LLC, S/C-Corp etc. What do you need to disclose more specifically and what documentation and legal paperwork do you have to provide?

For example, I currently take consultations and speaking gig money and have revenue (royalties from my book I published years ago) and plan on having an existing app that generates money in the app store that is runs auto-pilot prior to coming into the company. Also note, that I'm aware that this product should not compete with the company's main product lines.**

(4) If you are going to start all this AFTER being hired into FAANGMULA, how do you inform your company employer formally (HR, direct report boss), and that your side hustle does and will not interfere with your primary role at the FAANGMULA company hour wise and that you will still meet all of your core duties/goals/tasks/deadlines for the company and this is sort of 'hack on the weekends thing?'

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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    My main advice here is "Don't be dumb":

    1. Don't build a competing product to the company you work at. When in doubt, you are probably building something you can be sued for, so just move 1 product domain further away
    2. Don't work on it during company time (keep it to late nights, weekends, and time off)
    3. Don't use company equipment to do it

    I have built a lot of side projects while I've been working (several with >100k+ users), and I've never had a problem. And this was because I didn't do anything dumb.

    When I went to Facebook (now Meta), I was in a similar mind space to this question, and I wanted to play it super safe. There is actually an official form you are supposed to fill out for your side projects and turn it to your director (it just lets them know that they exist and you will follow the rules above).

    I filled out forms for each of my 3-5 biggest side projects (50k+ users), and I gave them to my Director of Engineering (skip manager). He signed them but was incredibly surprised and gave me this weird look 😅. The look said "Hey, you're not being dumb with these projects, so I trust you and you can stop wasting my time with this ridiculous paperwork in the future."

    So yeah, I did that and whenever I booted up a new side project while I was still working at Meta (which I did several times), I didn't waste anyone's time (or kill any more trees) with this paperwork. Like I said, just don't be dumb.

  • 2
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a month ago
    • When I joined Meta, I remember them asking about IP, projects, or jobs I had ("prior inventions"). I recommend you fill this out thoroughly since it acts as coverage for anything, and you clearly retain ownership over anything that was already yours before employment.
    • For other projects, it really is a judgment call. This may be slightly controversial, but I like the "don't ask, don't tell" policy: as long as you're clear that you're not competing with the company, and it's not impacting your day-to-day performance, most Big Tech managers don't care about your side projects, and may not want you to waste their time.
      • I'd informally ask others in the company how they deal with this.
      • All the projects I had while fully employed made zero revenue or little revenue (< $5K). If you're making substantial amounts of money, you'll want to be more careful.
  • 1
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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
    Other
    a month ago

    Thanks all of that makes sense and what I thought too. Thanks for sharing your experiences Alex and Rahul!